In the Elementary series I discuss various game design approaches and figuring out what makes them tick, how to improve them, and brainstorm game design. This one is dedicated to Horror-style games.
It’s time to do another News Roundup. This time around, we’ll dwell on the wisdom of evil strategies.
Sorry to make you stare at that “Online education is doomed” post for the last few days, but I’ve been burning through X-COM: Enemy Unknown, which I am now finished. The fact that I finished it may or may not be a good thing (I would have gladly accepted getting helplessly lost in a web of ever-multiplying strategic decisions, never to emerge). The important part is that I’m now fully qualified to judge the game to the fullest — which is exactly what I intend to do.
I know that I should probably just finish Part 5 of the MGS2: A Complete Breakdown already, since it’s getting so close to completion, but the sooner the better with cases like this. It’ll be great though, so don’t worry.
[Update: RockPaperShotgun has come to the defense of the game and addressed some of the bad impressions left by the demo.]
X-COM: Enemy Unknown is my most anticipated game this year, not because I think it will be even a fraction as innovative or important as the original (for that you’d need to enlist the original creator, Julian Gollop,) but because it has the potential to scratch some of the itches I’ve been having ever since I discovered the 1994 PC game last year. Also, it has the potential to spawn a new love for powerful tactics game rooted in high-level strategic control. I downloaded the demo off of Steam, finished it in a few minutes because it’s very short, and here’s why it makes me deeply uncomfortable.
The gaming world is abuzz with this news, so you should know this by now. But for those who still don’t, it’s time to pay attention: a true strategic revival of the X-COM franchise is being made. Game Informer has the exclusive stuff.
Please watch the video on this page. It’s an interview with the actual designers, gushing over what they love about the original, and how dedicated they are to staying true to it. Not only do they force unfamiliar employees to become familiar with the game and appreciate it, but they are comprised of many former Microprose employees — meaning they’ve got the DNA of the original staff.
Base construction goes from a top-down layout to a subterranean sub-basement style
Interesting lighting schemes combined with bulky and distinct character profiles makes the whole screen look inviting and understandable
A beautiful globe promises the ability to strategically build bases and manage resources, ordering supplies and doing research to gain an advantage
For as cynical as I am, this game is making me hyped in ways I haven’t been in a long, long time. And actually, I’ve got a good feeling about this one too, although, there’s not much to say about it yet.
I promised myself to link to any good coverage of X-COM, and the Yogscast fellows doing a running commentary while playing is pretty much the best coverage one could ask for!
They’re doing it for charity, which is an awfully nice thing to do. Look:
In other news, Notch has begun working on an X-Com influenced project that sets Santa Clause against Cthulu in a battle for world supremacy.
You can read about that here.
Also, it’s been a while since I talked about the upcoming fighting game Skullgirls!
This game keeps getting more and more interesting. They say they’re going to have the most user-friendly, helpful tutorial system in fighting game history (which is good!) and a bunch of other goodies. Personally I’m in love with the designs most of all, but everything about it is impressive to me. The sheer quality of work makes you wonder why games like King of Fighters are so incredibly lazy in their animation process.
Also, the last time I mentioned Skullgirls I accidentally made it sound like a PS Store exclusive! Whoops. It’s going to be on the Xbox market too, so make sure you buy it.
So I guess I was thinking about all the things that are severely lacking in videogames today, like protagonists who aren’t “cool”, strong themes about being a parent, anything set in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, and multi-layered strategy games like X-COM.
What I ended up coming up with was this. It’s an idea I had for an X-COM -type game in which you hunt down and intercept your own wife, who turned out to be an deep undercover Russian agent whose mission was to steal your greatest creation: a floppy disk with a computer program that will change the world.
Set in 1990, the game would feature a world map called “Hunt Mode” in which you expand your network of nerd friends, exploit the resources of government agencies, and evade capture while Continue reading